Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Wildlife Federation and Scotts Miracle-Gro: A green partnership or a sell-out?

The National Wildlife Federation, sponsor of the backyard habitat program, has agreed to a partnership with Scotts, makers of Miracle-Gro, the non-organic plant food, and the most popular herbicide, Roundup. This has caused utter consternation among many in the organic gardening movement who have previously been supporters of NWF.

The supposed aim of the partnership is a campaign to get kids outside and enjoying the real world of Nature and gardens, rather than being sedentary technoholics tied to their cell phones and video games. That certainly seems a worthy goal and Scotts is rich enough to provide money to back the campaign, but those in the organic movement see it as a marriage made in hell and accuse Scotts of trying to "greenwash" itself and its products by its association with what has been until now a respected conservation organization. NWF has received an angry and vociferous backlash from those who feel essentially that they have sold their soul to the devil with this partnership.

I feel conflicted by this news. I am an NWF member and I proudly display my backyard habitat certification from them. Although I try to be as organic in my gardening practices as I can, I'm not pure as the driven snow in this regard. I have used Scotts' products in the past and I can't honestly guarantee that I won't ever use them again. When I have used them before, I've tried to use them sparingly and should I ever feel the need to use them again, it will again be only as much as I need to do the job. So perhaps this means that I've sold my soul to the devil right along with NWF and that I have no right to criticize them.

In a perfect world, I would certainly prefer that my conservation organizations be unfettered by any doubtful associations. In the real world, I understand that it takes money as well as good intentions to do good. This is the compromise that NWF has made, trying to balance the good with the bad. It's a difficult line to walk and they have my sympathy.


  1. I'm with you, Dorothy. I have used Scotts' products in the past and for six months I even had Scotts Lawn Service come out each month and treat my lawn! That was before I became enlightened. I don't know what the outcome will be for this partnership. Only time will tell.

  2. I do understand the sentiments of those who feel this association as a kind of betrayal of pure conservationist principles, Jayne, and I do support the organic movement. I just feel that since I have not always been so "pure" myself, I cannot necessarily condemn NWF for its decision. The real world is rarely so black and white. More often, it is many shades of gray.